District sits inside a building that has housed several popular night spots. A radical renovation has polished its rooms to a high gloss, and certainly the decor adds to the enjoyment of a meal or drink.

With two floors and a railed opening on the second floor overlooking the bar, black-upholstered booths, red-brown chairs and bar stools are comfortable spots to perch and drink a glass from the good wine list.

On busier nights than the Tuesday I visited, people-watching must be good here, particularly at the edge of the railing.

But some care should be taken when ordering. Creating crunch and richness are skills well in hand in the kitchen, but sometimes plating dishes that carry the clear flavors of their ingredients is not.

Maine crabmeat fritters ($9), shaped in several golden brown lozenges, were nice and crunchy but completely lacking when it came to the flavor, or even the discernible presence, of crab.

Brandade ($10) was composed of round, golden-brown fried shapes, also crisp and discernibly made with codfish. Brandade is not usually fried, but it might have worked as a good codfish cake if we could have tasted the codfish more. The salty frisee salad that accompanied it with segments of citrus performed its own role perfectly, refreshing the taste buds for another go.

More intriguing than either of the above, baked halloumi ($8) was a fried or broiled rectangle of mild, Middle Eastern cheese (not breaded) set in a shallow earthenware dish with cream mixed with Ouzo and roasted garlic, and topped with fried potatoes that were skinny and crunchy. Slices of chewy bread made the base for a piece of hot cheese and perhaps one of the sour little gherkins.

Buffalo chicken livers ($7) came from a section of the menu named Charcuterie and Offal. The livers were crusty with some thin breading and coated with an acrid hot sauce that did them no favors, however faithful to that bar favorite, Buffalo chicken wings.

Roasted bone marrow ($7) with pickled tongue and seared foie gras ($13) from the same section of the menu would likely be more successful, and the oysters on the half shell ($12) even better.

The wine menu is the work of Anthony Mastropasqua, the former owner of Tropa, a Portland wine shop. It gave another dinner companion delight to find Ermitage du Pic Saint Loup ($32) from the Languedoc-Roussillon wine region of France on the list, with its taste of blueberries and elegant touch of bitterness. Terredora Falanghina ($26,) vibrant with sprightly citrus, was perhaps the best thing we had for an appetizer. Terredora’s Greco di Tuffo, another fine Italian white, is pricey at $11 a glass but only $33 for a bottle.

Cocktails are inevitably a feature of the handsome bar, such as the Old Cuban ($9) with mint, lime, simple syrup, Bacardi and Peychaud’s Bitters, topped with Prosecco.

Dinner was simply better. Veal schnitzel ($24) is a house specialty, and the thin, pounded, tender slice of veal was wrapped in a crisp fine coating that accentuated its virtues. Spaetzle mixed with capers and lemon, with some saut? spinach, made a good side.

Flounder ($25) had been expertly cooked, edged with a filigree of brown crispness and tender and moist inside. Fregola sarda, toasted little round-shaped pasta from Sardinia, was quite chewy, even hard, and could have used more cooking. A few Littleneck clams in a briny herb broth lay under the fish.

Grilled skirt steak ($26) was a conundrum. Perfectly cooked and tasty with a meaty sauce on top of pureed spinach, the meat was completely cool. “They do let it rest for a moment,” said Justin Roig, manager on duty when the general manager is absent.

Potato gratin made with sliced braised beef completed that plate. Roig said we should have asked our server if the temperature was intentional, and he was right.

A fried chicken breast and roasted chicken thigh ($17) came with creamy grits and salty red-eye gravy, with collard greens introducing chewy, full-fledged earthiness.

The cheeseburger comes with house-cured bacon, and grilled shrimp and scallops come with pureed Meyer lemon. Like the entrees we tasted, they are straightforward crowd-pleasers taking no risks. To be sure, many of us might be deeply grateful for this list of comfort food; though comfort, in the form of fried coatings and starch, seemed to have overwhelmed the apps.

We found out the Meyer lemon tart was unavailable after setting our stomachs on it — and the chocolate mousse ($8), served in an oval ramekin like creme brulee, was just a plain Jane creamy mousse with no wow factor.

The decaf was strong, and an offer of more was welcome. The Quinta do Crasto Late Bottle Vintage port ($6) was preferred over the tawny port on the drinks list by my wine aficionado friends. 

N.L. English is a Portland freelance writer and the author of “Chow Maine: The Best Restaurants, Cafes, Lobster Shacks and Markets on the Coast.” Visit English’s website, www.chowmaineguide.com.